Central perk: A new island park opens in New York City

Little Island park promises to be a new hub of leisure in Manhattan

With all the buzz about Friends: The Reunion over the last couple of days, everyone’s been in a New York state of mind. And while it may be Central Perk or Central Park that the city is known for, a new space called Little Island is ready to capture our imagination.

Little Island,, Manhattan, Westside, New York City, park, leisure
NYC’s latest park — Little Island — seems to float like a leaf on water. Image: Courtesy Little Island.

This Manhattan park is a 1.1-hectare piece of paradise in the middle of the Hudson River. Fuelled by a $260 million donation by billionaire Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg, it aims to add a bit of whimsy and wonder to the fast-gentrifying West Side.

Little Island,, Manhattan, Westside, New York City, park, leisure, architecture
The tulip-shaped pillars rise from the river in varying heights, giving the park’s landscape a unique base. Image: Courtesy: Island Park.

It’s a culmination of a creative collaboration between NYC landscape firm Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA) and the British design firm Heatherwick Studio. The urban park stands on 132 tulip-shaped pillars built over the remnants of the historic Pier 54 that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Thomas Heatherwick, Founder, Heatherwick Studio, gives you a behind-the-scenes tour of the structural design of Little Island in New York City.

Landscape expert Signe Nielsen, Principal, MNLA, brings the poetry of a leaf floating on water, creating a space that is both, visually surprising and inspiring. At Little Island, you’re ‘invited to dream’. It offers more than 350 varieties of flora. This includes 35 species of trees, 65 species of shrubs, and 270 varieties of grasses, perennials, vines, and bulbs. Many of these have been selected for their fragrance and attractiveness to birds and pollinators.

Little Island park, new york city, leisure, USA
Visitors of all ages enjoying Little Island’s green spaces. Image: Courtesy Little Island.

The park is attracting more than the birds and the bees already though, with its bustling al fresco food court that’s aptly named The PlayGround, and a stage surrounded by greenspace called The Glade. Visitors are enjoying the winding walkways, flower-rich slopes, and the stunning sunset vistas from the 687-seater amphitheatre, which will soon feature live performances.

Little Island park, new york city, leisure, USA
‘The Amph’ amphitheatre is very state-of-the-art and yet has an organic feel. Image: Courtesy Little Island.

You can get there for breakfast and go full-on New Yorker by grabbing a bagel or avocado toast with coffee. Or savour sangria or local craft beer over strains of live music as you watch the sun go down from The Amph. To avoid crowding, visitors wanting to enter post-noon have to book a timed entry via the park’s website.

Little Island park, new york city, leisure, USA
Little Island gives you great views of the Manhattan skyline as you relax on the grassy slopes. Image: Courtesy Little Island.

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